The thing is roughly human sized, thick and hunched. Its knobbled hide is striated with the colors of the sea, and reflection of seawater on reef rock. Lamp-like green eyes seem to glow with some eerie internal luminescence. Its thick muscled limbs end in stubby, but sharp claws. The fish-like head permanently frowns with a wide mouth framed with spined cartilaginous jaw hinges.
- The creature is draped in a primitive wrap, with a loincloth, and it hefts weapons of chipped coral and unrefined iron.
- It swims frog-like, its webbing between fingers and toes belling out like a ship’s sails as it powerfully kicks along, surreal in its grace underwater.
- It spots you, its eyes brightening, and it releases a deafening honk. Spines stand up on the top of its head, unfurling a yellow crest.
- As you listen to them communicate, their speech is like gurgling belches and growls, like jogging wineskins half full of curd while provoking a wolf.
- It collapses with the pain of its injuries, squealing piteously, its black blood making the water brackish. A horrible stink rises from it as it scrabbles with terror.
Reef crawler scouts like to minimize their danger. They are cowardly, ready to run if things go against them, unwilling to fight if they have no escape route, and content to watch stronger foes from hiding. However, they assume (often correctly) that they will get no mercy if they surrender, so sometimes they fight with berserk desperation to get away.
- At a distance, they throw javelins.
- If possible, they will attack with water between them and their targets, or other obstacles, so if they choose to withdraw they minimize ability to pursue.
- At close range, they prefer charging from ambush to get the first hit in.
- They prefer hiding in shallow water to burst up in ambush and charge.
- If they outnumber their foes, they prefer grappling onto coral or into water.
- Reef crawlers weigh about 300 pounds, so if they get on top of a target their weight crushes the unfortunate who may be lacerated on coral.
- Drowning is a problem for those who cannot breathe water, if the reef crawler pulls them in.
- May be watching a path, waiting for a sufficiently weak target to pass so they can attack with relative safety, ideally 2 to 1.
- May be foraging for boggies, their favorite kind of meat; they will follow boggies into danger nfor the chance to snatch them and trundle them home as a delicacy. For boggie meat, they take chances.
- If an individual or group offends by killing a shaman or dealing a particularly vicious blow against the reef crawlers, they may trail the individual or group, learning movements, waiting for the opportunity to get fitting revenge.
- They like ambushes. Sometimes they will lob javelins to get a group’s attention and anger them, then retreat into a situation with much more favorable conditions. This is hunting for food; they eat people.
Their quaint weapons can fetch equivalent prices for sale to collectors, or if selling directly to collectors, double the price of an equivalent item.
The corpse of a reef crawler can have value.
- The leather from reef crawlers is a valued commodity. A skinned crawler’s hide is worth about 1 sina.
- The leather from these creatures is critical in making reef boots. The soles and sides of the boots render them impervious to piercing from the reef rock.
- The leather can also be fashioned into leather armor, stealthy against a reef environment.
- Though controversial, many find the meat of a reef crawler a bit rubbery but satisfying, especially in stew or if slow-roasted. A corpse can fetch about 8 mehra in some quarters.
- The head fin and webbed fingers and toes produce leather perfect for writing notes to send with carrier creatures, and can also be used as wraps for delicacies if prepared properly; a set of fin skin or webbing is worth about 2 m if harvested correctly.
- Taxidermists find there is a brisk market for stuffed reef crawlers, or their heads, and a corpse in good shape can fetch up to 3 sina from a collector.
- Claws are worth about 3 k each.
- The musk can be used to attract or frighten reef crawlers. A skilled collector can sell the harvested gluey white musk to alchemists or adventurers for about 1 sina per dose.
- If properly harvested, the chemical creating the luminescence in their eyes can be distilled, so about 10 eyes create a peculiar glow rod that can provide light above or below the water. These glow rods sell for about 3 sina each, but alchemic and zoological knowledge are both needed to make them.
April 21, 2011